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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE REFORMATION AND EDUCATION       187

the whole social life of Germany and Northern Europe. But
Luther, who was a man of religion first and a scholar after, had
undoubtedly added to the difficulty of the educational situation
by his attacks on the older humanism. " He heaps hatred and con-
tempt on the classical studies," said Erasmus, " and that is fatal
to us without being helpful to him."

2. THE EDUCATIONAL IDEALS OF LUTHER

In his fear for the future of humane learning, Erasmus left out
of his reckoning the constructive genius of Luther (1483-1546).
Luther did not perhaps attach the same importance to the study
of the classics as Erasmus, but the point of view of the great
religious pioneer was not so different from that of the great scholar
as their controversies suggested. In their common revolt against
the medieval system of life and all that it implied, both went back
to the past for their ideals of social regeneration, the one mainly
to the life and doctrine of the early Christian Church, the other
mainly to the secular institutions of ancient Greece and Rome.
So far they were in fundamental agreement as to the necessity for
a knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages in which saving
wisdom was enshrined. But in the educational sphere Luther
was confronted with a much bigger problem than Erasmus. While
recognizing that scholarship was quite as essential in the new dis-
pensation created by his breach with the Church as in the old, he
could not be satisfied with the establishment of a small aristocracy
of intellect (such as Erasmus desired) and trust to their ideas
working their way down to the common people. The Reformation,
in destroying the authority of the Church in those States whose
rulers had followed Luther, had thrown into disorder the whole
system of education, and there was urgent need, not only for an
education suited for the civic and political leaders and the minis-
ters of religion, but also for an education suited for the people at
large. Alike for the requirements of everyday life and for the
first-hand acquaintance with the Bible and the catechisms, which
the Protestant conception of religion involved, there had to be
schools of a new order. The time was past, as Luther said, for
schools where a boy spent twenty or thirty years in the study of
Donatus without learning anything. Another day had dawned